Urban Design

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The Master of Urban Design (M.U.D.) is an advanced, interdisciplinary program of study that focuses on contemporary challenges of urbanism at local, regional and global scales.  Courses are taught by faculty from Architecture, Community and Regional Planning, and Landscape Architecture; with an understanding that urban environments should be engaged through an integrated design process that includes ecological, social, material, economic, and urban policy factors.

The urban design degree reflects a deep commitment to resilient urban environments within the context of an increasingly concentrated, connected and, diverse urban world. Accordingly, the coursework engages emerging urbanization topics including:

  • The formation of more adaptable, flexible and resilient cities;
  • the exponential growth of megacities and steady decline of investments in traditional urban economies in the twenty-first century;
  • The transformation of Industrial landscapes, particularly within the Midwestern context, and the global impact of transnational economic operations.
  • the spatialization of informal economies, practices, and services across the south-north global divide;
  • and, a reexamination of the potentials of hard and soft infrastructures, principles of the circular economy and a reframing of the urban-rural divide.

The program consists of 36 credits, typically distributed over three semesters (fall, spring and summer), however, students may choose to distribute these credits over four or five semesters. The degree is geared toward students with professional degrees in architecture (BArch, MArch), landscape architecture (BLA, MLA) or planning (BSCRP, MCRP, MUP). Graduate students can also pursue the following double degrees in the College of Design: M Arch/MUD, MCRP/MUD and MLA/MUD. 

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Courses

Courses primarily for graduate students, open to qualified undergraduates:

(3-6) Cr. 6.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission
Analysis and observation of urban morphology and culture with urban design projects set in local cities of the United States. Students with learn skills to observe and interpret urbanism as they develop processes for designing cities concerned for both physical form, ecological principles and human activity.

(1-10) Cr. 6.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission.
Students develop proposals for urban design interventions in an international context at multiple scales using investigation, analysis, observation, and interaction. Field trips.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission
Focus on the historical role of planning and urban design in the shaping of North American cities and regions, from the colonial period to the late twentieth century. Examine the legacy of planning and design by exploring the intersection of geographic space, politics, and policy. Investigate the factors and the processes that produce the built environment.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: Graduate standing, senior classification with instructor permission.
Introduction to the ways that urban designers think about the city with a focus on how history, theory, and a wide range of contextual factors inform urban design practice. Field trip.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission.
Study of emerging trends and practices in urban design using a range of current media communication platforms. Course will be conducted in a combination of lecture, seminar formats. Graduate level readings, discussions, research, and development of projective scenarios.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission.
An exploration of contemporary urban design methods derived from significant urban projects and (re)development initiatives. Selected case studies to articulate and evaluate methods for implementing urban design goals and objectives in a variety of urbanized contexts. Case studies will build on a combination of analytical research, lectures, student presentations, and field trips.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission.
An introduction to visual representation tools and techniques for generating and communicating urban design concepts and analytical research. Projects and exercises will utilize traditional and contemporary approaches to drawing, modeling, and mapping, as well as desktop publishing tools for print, web, and presentation graphics. Field trip.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: Graduate standing or senior classification with instructor permission.
This course examines how political-economic forces shape the contemporary built and social environments and the way urban designers respond to these forces. The course highlights various methods urban designers use to create change and, in turn, how these affect stakeholders and communities. Students develop critical awareness of existing social, political and economic systems; understand the impact of the decision they make, and the methods they use, on the city and these systems.